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  South By Southwest 2007 - Day 4  



Austin, TX


Lee Scratch Perry, My Latest Novel, Field Music, Tilly and the Wall, The Pipettes, +/-, The High Strung

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



I know that one of the many joys of SxSW is the innumerable day shows, wherein bands you might not get a chance to see in the evening play sets, usually sponsored, that always seem have free beer and/or free foods and/or free merchandise. While that's all well and good, it can be a tiring process. And, considering that SxSW is my vacation, I don't wander out during the day as much as most people. To this end, on Saturday, which was St. Patrick's Day (and therefore more inclined to alcohol-induced mayhem), I stayed holed up in hotel, reading a good book, and prepping for the evening.

We got a somewhat late start this evening, mainly because Postlibyan wanted to catch Lee Scratch Perry in the late afternoon.


I had wanted to catch Lee Scratch Perry for a while now, but he always plays Atlanta at inconvenient times. So i wandered into The Lone Star Lounge to see him. This was another elaborate "set", like The Rat Bar at which we had seen The Oohlas on the previous day. Weird.

However, unlike The Oohlas filming, this place was packed. And, much as i could have predicted, the crowd were mostly longer haired white kids doing "the hippie dance". Lee Scratch Perry was a bundle of energy way up on the stage -- he danced and sang, even lifted a little Asian girl (probably 4 or 5) onto the stage and danced with her a little bit. His band was a 6-piece of white hippie kids, but to their defense they knew their stuff. Hippies and reggae go together well, and they sound was great. I noticed that Perry communicated what he wanted to his guitarist, who led the band with a series of gestures and head nods.

Lee Scrath Perry, positively covered in bling.

Still, it was a fun set.


Running a little behind is always problematic at SxSW, as everyone always seems to go eat at once, thereby leading to long lines and possible missed sets. On St. Patrick's Day, well, getting a late start can totally sink your evening plans. Still, after waiting some 20 minutes for a table, we manage to acquire more good Cuban food at Habana Calle 6 and managed to get to Buffalo Billiards just in time to catch our first band.

This first band was My Latest Novel, who were opening the Bella Union showcase. I know I ought to be more familiar with them, but in my head I confuse all those bands with "My" at the beginning. My Morning Jacket, My Favorite, My Education, My Latest Novel(Brendan's Note: This leads me to propose my latest "supergroup": My Latest Educational Novel's Jacket. It could work!) It can be a bit confusing for the listener, especially when you're like me and hearing about this music secondhand. So I was bit surprised when the 5 piece My Latest Novel took the stage promptly at 8, and began to play music I wasn't expecting. (In retrospect, the confusion in my head was because I was thinking "My Favorite"…which may explain why I kept verbally referring to this band as "My Favorite Novel".)

Either way, I thought My Latest Novel put on a particularly awesome set. Whilst the main, tallish lead singer droned soothingly and in general slowly, the other male vocalist would back him in quick, more staccato tones. And at times, all of the front line members, including a very intense looking male multi-instrumentalist as well as the female violinist would add vocals and change pace, giving My Latest Novel's music an epically swelling sound. Wow. It was that impressive.

My Latest Novel.

Equally impressive was the afore-mentioned, very intense instrumentalist, who managed to thrash the heck out of a beautiful hollow-body during several songs while still handling a mini-xylophone with delicacy.

Look at the cute little xylophone!

Similarly, I kept getting totally entranced by the drummer, who seemed to guide the proceedings, both in rhythm and tone. Any way you look at it, this band was one of the two best sets I saw at SxSW, and that's saying something.


My Latest Novel released one of my favorite albums of last year, the epic Wolves, so i was really looking forward to this set. And they managed to impress the heck out of me. Their songs are complex and shift in unexpected ways, and i really like that about them. Well, i was worried that the subtlety of their sound would not be reproduced live, and i am pleased to report that my worries were for nothing. My Latest Novel pulled it off admirably. Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul was done slightly slower, and was spine-tinglingly beautiful. The Reputation of Ross Francis also translated well to the stage.

An acoustic moment with My Latest Novel.

I was also pleased to notice that they did two songs i was unfamiliar with. New material, perhaps? Well, those songs sounded great as well. At 40 minutes, i was aching for more… But that was not to be at the festival. Maybe they will tour, and i can see them play a nice long set at The EARL or somewhere back home!

My Latest Novel were, in fact, wolves.


We didn't really have a 9 pm show to go to, which was a good thing. You see, one of PostLibyan's goals during SxSW07 was to see The Pipettes, a band about whom he's been raving, even before they became one of the "buzz bands" at the festival. Unfortunately, even though it seemed like they played constantly, every time we attempted to see The Pipettes there was a huge line. So on Saturday afternoon, I had joked to PostLibyan that no matter what happened, we would get into to see their 11 pm showcase. Since EvilSponge favorites Tilly and the Wall were playing the 10 pm spot at the same venue, my suggestion was that we wander over to the venue, queue up and wait, and then see the bands. I thought I was kidding when I said we'd queue all the 9 pm hour….

But then we got over to the venue (another uneven patio with a tent), and the line was already a solid block plus long, and that was even limited to badge holders only. And, oh by the way, the venue was already packed, so it would be one in / one out. I looked at PostLibyan. He looked at me. We shrugged and began to wait.

The queue experience was, in retrospect, rather entertaining. I got to see numerous people look at the line, say "Who's playing? They must be good" and wander off. I saw many folks in front of me get frustrated and leave (thereby moving us closer to the front). I also saw several people go up to the guy managing the line, plead their case (as they were more important than the rest of us regular music dorks), and get sent promptly to the back of the ever-expanding queue. And I also considered that perhaps I had been short-sighted by not using the restroom before leaving the last venue. Finally, during the last few songs of the 9 pm band (who were running late), I found myself as the first person in front of the venue entrance. This gave me a nice perspective of the chaos which occurred when an ice truck tried to maneuver down the lane where the line began, and was somewhat thwarted by the hordes of people.


We were standing there in the line, listening to Field Music play. I could actually hear them rather well from outside. They sounded vaguely like early Genesis to me, and were enjoyable back ground noise as i watched the chaos.

This picture of Field Music, taken from the alleyway outside,
brought to you courtesy of my new zoom lens.


After Field Music ended, a few people left the patio, and I suddenly found myself under the sweltering tent, surrounded by drunk folks on uneven ground. Great. We moved over to the side (where there was a small section not under the tent). It was very sloped and rough, but at least the air was moving, and I had a decent sight line, if you didn't mind the tent posts. And I settled in to watch Tilly & the Wall.

It was after 10, and they were still setting up, and it seemed like they were having equipment issues. Musicians (and the venue's staff members) went over and peered at the keyboards and laptop. They tweaked things. They looked back at the sound board. They tweaked some more. Finally, at circa 10:25 pm, Tilly & the Wall came on, and began to play.

And I hate to say it, as I really like this band, but they did not play well. I couldn't tell if it was the sound mix that was viciously off, if the band were really frustrated, or if the equipment issues were just throwing things off. Any way you look at it, though, it was not one of their best sets, and it was totally clear that Tilly & the Wall were perfectly aware of this fact. Still, to give them a lot of credit, the band still threw themselves into the set, as if they were trying to force their way on sheer adrenaline and energy.

Tilly and the Wall still danced up a storm.


I dunno what was going on, but i could tell that the various singers could not hear each other. The two girls who do a lot of the harmonies were often out of sync, and it really destroyed their sound.

It's hard to harmonize when you can't hear the other girl.


Once Tilly and the Wall finished, the venue cleared out a little more, only to be filled back in by folks from that still long queue. The Pipettes sound person came out, and tweaked things a bit (including the immortal line "The vocals are O.K., but they're all a bit…'woo'."), and then we all had to wait some more. By now I was beginning to get irritated. I did have other sets to watch, and the very steep patio was starting to get to me, and I really couldn't understand why things were running so damn late, since it certainly seemed to me like The Pipettes were set up. Maybe they were just trying to avoid the music bleed-over from one of the other nearby venues?

The Pipettes were a little tired after 6 shows in 4 days!

Finally, around 11:25, The Pipettes came on, and began to play their Motown girl group music. And they sounded really really good. The vocals were clearly defined, and the backing band didn't overwhelm anything. Yeah, at times, they were almost too quiet, but I was ready to work with them. What I wasn't ready to work with was the crowd around me, including one person who kept exhorting folks to just "DANCE." Um…. I'm standing on uneven, sloping pavement, and I can't see too well. No thank you, as I'm not in the mood to risk horrific physical injury by bouncing.

The Pipettes take their girl group music very seriously.


I am grateful that Tracers indulged me in seeing this band, and The Pipettes really pull off that old Motown sound remarkably well. The band consists of 5 musicians in sweater vests and three girls in polka dotted dressed. The band recreates the sound almost perfectly, and the three girls do a fine job of harmonizing while dancing. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and exactly what i expected them to sound like.

It didn't hurt to see The Pipettes dance so well...


So after probably 30 minutes or so of their set, I was pretty much done (and not in a good way), and decided to head over the Habana Calle complex to see +/- on the patio with The High Strung inside.

And there was yet another line. You have got to be kidding me. I really like both of these band, and I suspect others do as well. But a line? When The Stooges are about to play at Stubb's? That makes no sense. And what made even less sense is that people kept leaving the venue, and yet they wouldn't let anyone in. Even when +/- began to play. Still, from where I was standing, the couple of songs from +/- I heard sounded really good, and were a good representation of their sound.

James Baluyut playing outside, apparently in a cave.

Finally, they let some of us in, and I immediately popped inside to see The High Strung (oh yeah, and finally use the restroom!). The High Strung are one of my favorite live bands, and it's a shame that they don't make it down to Atlanta more often. On this evening, inside the remarkably uncrowded Habana Calle, they put on a particularly tight and energetic set consisting of material from their forth-coming new album as well as a generous helping of the older songs.

The crowd really got into The High Strung.

Around me, people bounced around (ah! the joys of even flooring!) and shouted along with the band. It completely removed all of the evening's frustrations and reminded me that indeed, this really is all about the music. And when the music's good and the band's into their set, life can be very good indeed.


Tracers stayed inside seeing The High Strung, while i wandered back and forth between the two stages, getting a little bit of each bands set. There was a funny overlap as both bands acknowledged to other. James Baluyut said, "Who is that playing in there? They rock!" A few minutes later lead High Strunger Josh Malerman said, "Should we call the cops on the neighbors?" Still, the bleedover between the two stages was not as bad as at many other venues, and both bands made their comments with a joking, not annoyed, air.

Josh Malerman wonders what +/- sound like ...

... while Patrick Ramos wonders what all the ruckus is inside.


When The High Strung finished, we could have, I suppose, found one more band to watch. But considering the lines, and the crowds, and the general mayhem occurring on the streets, it seemed like the best idea was to wrap things up, with good music still hanging in my brain, and call this SxSW successfully completed.

Related Links:

Read the entire South by Southwest 2007 review:
    Day 1 featuring Saturday Looks Good To Me, Minmae, Rahim, Tammany Hall Machine, Through the Sparks, Al G., Faceless Werewolves, Oxford Collapse, Kinski
    Day 2 featuring Headlights, Kaki King, The Stars of Track and Field, Chairs of Perception, Hummersqueal, Trances Arc, The Apostles of Hustle, The Dears, The Oohlas, The Horrors
    Day 3 featuring: You Am I, Airbourne, The Oohlas, Picastro, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat, Tijuana Hercules, The Faint
    Day 4 featuring Lee Scratch Perry, My Latest Novel, Field Music, Tilly and the Wall, The Pipettes, +/-, The High Strung
In addition, some of these acts have been reviewed before. Links within the review point you to the appropriate places.


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